Internet and the English language brought people with common interests together from all around the globe, and blogging earned its big slice in launching individuals' careers as freelance writers. What a great option to hone writing skills, learn how to interact with a readership, and build quality clips?
While the majority of these blogs are well written, no matter the author's nationality, a number of non-natives' blogs show poor English skills. Causes are diverse and not always a consequence of the author's negligence: poor teaching, lack of feedback, and little opportunities to put language skills in practice.
The result, however, is the same: compromised readability turns off readers, and writers can have a tough time breaking into the writing market. Language skills are crucial to landing a job, along with an eye for storytelling and proofreading.
Don't let this discourage you. If you are a non-native English writer with (still) unripe English skills, you can work on perfecting your writing for the English-speaking market, and advance your career.
How Can The Non-Native English Writer Put a Period After The Word "Struggle"?
I'm a non-native English speaking blogger and freelance writer, and I have dealt with the word "struggle" since the very beginning of my career. It's a (sad) truth: not every reader of your blog is going to provide the feedback you need to improve your skills.
Improving takes the guts to look for and accept constructive criticism, courage to draft, edit and rewrite, time and patience to pick up grammar books once more, and master both grammar, spelling, and your voice in another language.
The following seven language skill-perfecting tips come from three years of experience as a blogger first and later as a freelance writer. Oh, I still blog! But nowadays blogging has a little bonus: quality.
7 Tips To Improve Your English Skills
1. Read, read, read. Not only blogs. Read books, magazines, brochures, reports and what else you feel appropriate for your niche. You should read not just to learn new topics and about discoveries of your favorite discipline, but even to improve your understanding of grammar, sentence structure and technical jargon. I suggest underlining terms, verbs and idiomatic sentences you encounter for the first time, so you can look them up in your dictionary or grammar reference later.
2. Build a personalized dictionary from your reading. All you need is a notepad and a pen. Write down idiomatic expressions, niche jargon, irregular verbs and writing style notes to revise later. My experience teaches that a personalized dictionary, which you write during your reading sessions, is much more effective as a learning aid than a printed or online dictionary you consult passively.
3. Engage in forum and chat conversations. This is crucial. You can't hope to perfect your English writing skills until you learn to think in English. Forums and chat rooms can make the difference: you are forced into a dynamic environment, which requires speedy action on your part. Once you hone your English thinking, along with your writing, you can work on improving your pronunciation -- to be able to conduct interviews.
4. Start a personal blog. Readers take niche blogs pretty seriously: bad grammar and spelling are seen as unprofessional and they are by all means a turn-off. On the contrary, a personal blog makes a perfect home to write about your favorite niche, while you work to perfect your skills: you can share personal opinions and experience, use newly learned jargon fear-free. No one is going to regard you as incompetent because of your English flaws on your personal blog.
5. Edit and rewrite... with the help of a dictionary! I encourage you to keep a dictionary at hand for the editing/rewriting stage. A thesaurus is another good companion to keep handy, too. Editing and rewriting require competencies and vocabulary most non-natives haven't mastered well yet, so make sure you have good reference material on your desk.
6. Ask a native English speaker to review your work. The best criticism you can get is a native English speaker's. Figuring out how to use certain slang, verbs and idiomatic expressions can be a tricky job for a non-native speaker. An English speaker can help you correct grammar, spelling, tone and style. So much in so little time!
7. Keep a humble attitude towards constructive criticism. Learning involves being ready to discuss your own work. You can't learn new things when you remain rigid on your position. Also, be humble and thankful to people who spend their time to review your work and give you constructive feedback; their advice can be the turning point in your writing career.
English Learning Resources
Following is a small list of FREE, quality resources you can use as reference material for your learning. Most of them include a user forum, which I encourage you to use actively in order to get the feedback you need to improve your skills.